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Consumer Reports offers advice for safer tattoos

Tattoos may be popular, but come with health risks

David Beckham boldly flaunts his tattoos in a commercial and fan websites for celebrities like Justin Bieber and Rihanna are totally devoted to the singers' tattoos and what they mean.

Big or small, tattoos are now mainstream.

"These days, everybody comes in to get tattooed. I tattooed a hedge fund manager a while ago," said Michelle Myles, of Daredevil Tattoos.

But getting a tattoo does pose health risks. The Centers for Disease Control recently issued a report on tattoo-related skin infections in several states caused by contaminated ink.

But concerns can go beyond skin infections, according to Consumer Reports'  medical adviser Dr. Orly Avitzur.

"In many areas tattoo shops are completely unregulated so infection prevention practices can vary, that creates a risk for HIV and hepatitis," said Avitzur.

In Texas, tattoo parlors are regulated by the Texas Department of Health Services.

There are ways you can reduce your risks.

"I'm surprised by how many patients tell me they were intoxicated when they got their tattoos. So it's important to keep a clear head. Never drink before you ink," said Avitzur.

Katy Perry's "The OneThat Got Away" video showcases another don't - homemade tattoos.

Instead find an experienced tattoo artist and check that the artist uses individually packaged single-use kits with disposable needles and tubes and wears sterile, disposable gloves.

And remember, tattoos aren't easily removed.

"You don't want to be stuck with something that's really ugly or that down the line you're going to regret," said Myles.


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